Anhinga
 Photo Anhinga Photo Anhinga Photo
Anhinga Photo Anhinga Photo Anhinga Photo
Anhinga Photo Anhinga Photo Anhinga Photo

General description.

The Anhinga often swims semi-submerged, only its long, thin, "kinked" neck appearing above water. Therefore, the Anhinga is popularly referred to as the "snakebird". Their bills are sharp and similar to all diving birds, except that the Anhinga's does not have a hook at the end, so it spears its prey then shakes it off and swallows. They hunt underwater, propelled by their feet, which are webbed from toe to toe. Wings and tail are fanlike. Males boast a bright blue-green eye ring. Anhingas are mostly seen roosting on tree branches overhanging water with their great wings spread out to dry, for if left wet, the bird is likely to lose buoancy. These birds are generally solitary.

Female appearance.

Similar markings but pale brown head, neck and breast.

Juvenile appearance.

Duller and browner than adults; attaining their adult plumage at age three.

Flight pattern.

Sedentary, with some local movements as water levels change. Northermost breeding Anhingas migrate to the Gulf Coast or Mexico in winter. While soaring in flight, Anhingas look like a "tiny crosses" in the sky.

Breeding habits.

Anhingas breed in the mangroves of coastal estuaries and on slow-moving freshwater lakes, ponds and marshes. Male Anhingas disply "aerially" perched in trees.

Calls or song.

Mostly silent, except during nesting season, when the Anhinga is heard chattering in a gutteral manner.

Population and distribution.

Anhingas can be found in tropical and subtropical parts of all continents, except Europe.

Nesting habits.

Anhingas nest in small colonies for four weeks before hatching three to five chicks from chalky, blue-green eggs they've incubated, in part, by their feet.
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